After award of the construction contract, the architect or engineer generally continues to assist the client in relations with the contractor.
As part of their ongoing services during construction and depending on the scale and complexity of the project, architects and engineers may make periodic site visits or maintain full-time representation on site during a portion or all of the construction period. The professional’s role is to expedite day-to-day communication and decision making by having on-site personnel available to respond to required drawing and specification clarifications.
Site-observation requirements for the project should be discussed with the client at the onset of the project and be outlined in the architect-client agreement. Many clients prefer periodic or regularly scheduled site visits by the design professional. A provision for additional or full-time on-site representation, however, can be addressed in the agreement, and compensation for this additional service can be outlined in the agreement for discussion with the client later in the development process or during the construction phase. The client and the architect and engineer should agree on the appropriate amount of site visitation provided in the architect’s basic services to allow adequate site-observation services based on specific project conditions.
If periodic site observations are made, the architect should report such observations to the client in written form. This should call attention to items observed that do not meet the intent of the construction documents. It is normally left to the client to reject or replace work unless such defective work involves life safety, health, or welfare of the building occupants or is a defect involving structural integrity. If the architect provides full-time site observation services, daily or weekly reports should be issued to the client outlining items observed that are not in accordance with the construction documents or design intent.
Site Record Keeping
Depending on contractual requirements for service during the construction phase, the architect may establish a field office. In this event, dual record keeping is suggested between the site and architect’s office so that records required for daily administration of construction are readily accessible on site. Contractor correspondence, field reports, testing and balancing reports, shop drawings, record documents, contractor payment requests, change orders, bulletin issues, field meeting minutes, and schedules are used continually during construction. Computer systems and electronic mail make the communication process somewhat easy to control.
Inspection and Testing
Technical specifications require testing and inspection of various material and building systems during construction to verify that the intent of the design and construction documents is being fulfilled under field conditions. Testing is required where visual observations cannot verify actual conditions. Subsurface conditions, concrete and steel testing, welding, air infiltration, and air and water balancing of mechanical systems are such building elements that require inspection and testing services. Normally, these services are performed by an independent testing agency employed directly by the client so that third-party evaluation can be obtained.
Although the architect does not become involved in the conduct of work or determine the means or methods of construction, the architect has the general responsibility to the client to see that the work is installed in general accordance with the contract documents.
Other areas of inspection and testing involve establishing and checking benchmarks for horizontal and vertical alignment, examining soils and backfill material, compaction testing, examining subsurface retention systems, inspecting connections to public utilities, verifying subsoil drainage, verifying structural column centrelines and base-plate locations (if applicable), checking alignment and bracing of concrete formwork, verifying concrete strength and quality, and other similar items.
The contractor normally submits a consolidated payment request monthly to the architect and client for review and certification. The payment request should be subdivided by trade and compared with the schedule of values for each trade that would have been submitted with the subcontractor bid if required by the instructions to bidders and bid form. The architect should review the payment request with respect to the percentage of completion of the pertinent work item or trade.
Some clients or lending institutions require that a partial waiver of lien be submitted for each work item or trade with each payment request. This partial waiver of lien can either be for the prior monthly request, which will indicate that the prior month’s payment has been received, or in certain cases for the current monthly request. If the latter procedure is followed, the waiver may require revision, depending on the architect’s review, if a work-item or trade-payment request is modified. The architect is not expected to audit the payment request or check the mathematical calculations for accuracy.
Contractor’s change-order requests require the input of the architect, engineer, and client and are usually acted on as part of the payment request procedure. A change order is the instrument for amending the original contract amount and schedule, as submitted with the bid and agreed on in the client-contractor contract. Change orders can result from departures from the contract documents ordered during construction, by the architect, engineer, or client; errors or omissions; field conditions; unforeseen subsoil; or other similar conditions.
A change order outlines the nature of the change and the effect, if any, on the contract amount and construction schedule. Change orders can occur with both a zero cost and zero schedule change. Nevertheless, they should be documented in writing and approved by the contractor, architect, and client to acknowledge that the changes were made, with no impact. Change orders are also used to permit a material substitution when a material or system not included in the contract documents is found acceptable by the client and architect. For material substitutions proposed by the contractor, schedule revisions are not normally recognized as a valid change.
The sum of the change-order amounts is added or deducted from the original contract amount. Then, the revised contract amount is carried forward on the contractor’s consolidated application for payment after the change orders have been signed by all parties. The normal contractor payment request procedure is then followed, on the basis of the new contract amount. If the schedule is changed because of a change order, the subsequent issue of the construction schedule should indicate the revised completion or move-in date, or both, that result from the approved change.
Project closeout involves all parties, including subcontractors and material suppliers. It should be addressed early in the construction phase so that the closeout can be expedited and documented in an organized and meaningful manner. At this point in the construction process, the attention of the contractor and architect is focused on accomplishing the necessary paperwork and administrative functions required for final acceptance of the work and issuance of the contractor’s final consolidated application for payment and final waiver of lien.
The normal project closeout proceeds as follows:
1. The contractor formally notifies the architect and the client that the contracted work is substantially complete.
2. From on-site observations and representations made by the contractor, the architect documents substantial completion with the client and the contractor. In some cases, this may trigger the start of certain guarantees or warranties, depending on the provisions of the general and supplementary conditions of the contract.
3. For some projects that are phased, some but not all the building systems may be recognized by the architect and the client as being substantially complete. This should be well-documented, since start dates for warranty and guarantee periods for various building systems or equipment may vary.
4. On-site visits are made by the architect and representatives of the client, sometimes called a walk-through, and a final punch list is developed by the architect to document items requiring remedial work or replacement to meet the requirement of the construction documents.
5. A complete keying schedule, with master, submaster, room, and specialty keys, is documented by the contractor and delivered to the client.
6. The contractor submits all record drawings, as-builts, testing and balancing reports, and other administrative paperwork required by the contract documents.
7. The contractor should submit all required guarantees, warranties, certificates, and bonds required by the general and supplementary conditions of the contract or technical specifications for each work item or trade outlined in the breakdown of the contractor’s consolidated final payment request.
8. The contractor corrects all work noted on the punch list. A final observation of the corrected work may then be made by the architect and client.
9. If the client accepts the work, the architect sends a certificate of completion to the contractor with a copy to the client. The certificate documents that final completion of the work has occurred. All required operating manuals and maintenance instructions are given to the architect for document control and forwarding to the client.
10. The contractor submits final waivers of lien from each subcontractor or material supplier. Also provided is an affidavit stating that all invoices have been paid, with the exception of those amounts shown on the final waiver of lien. With these documents, the contractor submits the final consolidated payment request, including all change orders.
11. The architect sends a final certificate of payment to the client, with a copy to the contractor.
12. The contractor provides any required certificate of occupancy, indicating that the building authorities have jurisdiction over the project approve occupancy of the space for the intended use.
13. The client makes final payment to the contractor and notifies the architect of this.
This process is important inasmuch as it can trigger the transfer of risk from the contractor’s insurance program during construction to the client’s insurance program for the completed project.